Plum Ali (#1) is a deserving favorite, as she may have finally found the right spot after facing tough fields in both the Belmont Oaks and Saratoga Oaks. Those races were contested at distances that are probably a little outside of her ideal range. Now she’s cutting back to a perfect one-turn mile on the Widener course and she’s drawn perfectly down on the rail. While she hasn’t won since taking the Miss Grillo as a 2-year-old, she’s run some nice races this year. She was badly hampered by a slow pace in the Appalachian at Keeneland and then just got moving too late in the Wonder Again when again caught behind a slow early tempo. As long as Jose Ortiz can work out a trip through traffic I think she’ll be tough to hold off.
Chad Brown has two of her main rivals in Nazuna and Minaun. Nazuna (#7) could take more money as she drops out of a wide trip in the Belmont Oaks. She, too, will appreciate cutting back in distance, but it remains to be seen if she’s quite good enough to beat this field.
I’m more interested in MINAUN (#3), who is my top pick. She got a wide trip in the Lake George last time when finishing behind talented stablemate Technical Analysis. And prior to that she should have won the Wild Applause but she got caught in traffic when attempting to rally in upper stretch, was forced to wait, and had to settle for second. I think getting back to one turn is going to be the key for her and I like the rider switch to Luis Saez.
I also wouldn’t completely dismiss Runaway Rumour (#12), who defeated Minaun in that Wild Applause. However, she has to work out a trip from an outside post position.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,7,12
Trifecta: 1,3 with 1,3 with 5,6,7,9,12